Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bat cave Buddhas and bats

To make the most of our visit to Khao Yai National Park we stayed two nights at Greenleaf Tour's guesthouse. We took a van from Bangkok, arrived in the afternoon and after lunch a small group of us piled into the back of a pick-up truck outfitted with benches and a roof and set out with a guide to see the bats.

Whip snake along the road

We hadn't gone five miles when, unexpectedly, the truck pulled over and our guide jumped out. We scrambled after him into the trees and when we caught up he was gently lifted a long, thin silver snake off a branch. It blows my mind that he actually spotted it from the truck at about 40 mph. but he really did have eyes like a hawk.

Another amazing earthling

But more impressive to me was how carefully he handled every creature he found and showed us along the way, and there were many.


Bat and Buddha cave near Khao Yai National Park


The first cave we visited was a huge underground world. There we had the pleasure of meeting phantasmagorical insects, an enormous cave dwelling serpent and some subterranean Buddhas serenely residing in the perpetual dark beyond the bottom of the stairs.


Bat cave Buddha

Bat cave resident

Another bat cave Buddha

Another bat cave resident

At one point, pure luck, we saw a colony of tiny bats emerge from their tiny cave within the larger cave's wall.



Twilight in the bat cave

I don't know if we disturbed them or happened upon them just as they were leaving for the night's hunt but according to our guide, even for him, it was a rare sighting.

Snacking on pineapple, waiting for twilight

The big event was watching some two million wrinkle lipped bats leave their hillside cave at twilight, and leave they did, like a rushing river. We watched for about an hour as they wound their way out over the fields for the night's hunt. They consume billions of insects a night and a few hawks swoop through their ranks hoping to consume a few of them. When we left, they were still streaming out.



Two million bats leaving their cave at twilight

The sound and rhythm of their wings resembled breathing and, mixed, with the singing of the insects, it was like nothing I've ever heard before yet it was comforting and familiar like the sound of the ocean or the nearness of a beloved.

3 comments:

Roy said...

Wow.

Kristiana said...

very cool. something similar happens every evening in austin texas. the bats live inside the congress avenue bridge and stream out by the millions at dusk. i witnessed it one time, but that was before cell phones and digital cameras. thanks for the video.

asha said...

Glad to oblige. Yes. Watching millions of bats do what they've been doing for millions of years is mind blowing. Kristiana, glad you got to see that.